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Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship with an appreciation for our surroundings and the wellbeing of future generations. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

When he said “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” heavyweight world champion Muhammad Ali was talking about his boxing style in 1964. Pollinator PowerWorks sees 2022 as a year to garner much needed attention for butterflies and bees by planting and powering up local pollinator gardens this spring.

We are Katie Adams, Nicholas Forestall and Ellie Volckhausen and we’d like to invite you to join us in an exciting initiative sprouting up in Newburyport.

The Pollinator PowerWorks, a multi-generational group of stewards, aim to create a network of pollinator gardens throughout the Greater Newburyport area which can be connected to surrounding communities and become part of the Greater Massachusetts Network: https://www.nofamass.org/mass-pollinator-network/

By Katie Adams, Newburyport High School senior, project co-lead:

My perspective on the mission of the Pollinator PowerWorks: Last winter, U.S. beekeepers lost 45% of their bee population. In the past decade, we have been losing 16% of all pollinators per year. This is due to habitat loss caused by factors such as pesticides, mining, and development. A world without pollinators certainly couldn’t sustain seven billion people, which is why we need to act now to save our food supply and the health of our ecosystem. When people are passionate about something, that’s when we really see change.

The best way to reverse what is happening is to start small. If we can plant even just a few more gardens, then we will be saving a significant number of pollinators. So many families and residents in Newburyport would benefit from joining others and planting their own pollinator gardens. They are beautiful to look at, exciting to learn about, and mesmerizing to watch, as they attract a variety of species.

By Nicolas Forestall, Newburyport High School student, project co-lead:

My fun learning experience planting pollinator gardens: Over the past two summers, I’ve put multiple pollinator beds in my garden. I’ve enjoyed planting them because of the aesthetic and ecological benefits they provide. With pollinators in steep decline, converting lawn to native pollinator plantings helps provide them with the food and nesting sites they need. I’ve enjoyed the color they provide throughout the summer and watching them grow. But, most of all, I’ve enjoyed watching the incredibly large numbers and species of pollinators that have visited my garden. My most successful planting has been by far my three broad-leaved mountain mints ( Pycnanthemum muticum) which attracted up to 50 pollinators at a time and over 30 different species of pollinators! But it wasn’t the only plant to attract a variety of pollinators: summersweet, asters, goldenrods, butterfly milkweed, and others attracted many species of bees, wasps, and butterflies.

By Ellie Volckhausen, advisor/mentor with full-time jobs managing a multimedia marketing and graphics arts team and being a mom: How would you like us to help you build your own pollinator garden in your yard? In 2022, ACES Pollinator PowerWorks would like to garner much needed attention for bees and butterflies by reaching out to the greater Newburyport community to offer help designing, planting, and powering up pollinator gardens for 10 to 15 enthusiastic individuals this spring.

We will supply the toolkit, plants, and boots on the ground to help get your garden started. We are creating a garden plan for small, medium, and large gardens to accommodate different sized plots and levels of ambition. Last spring, my kids and I planted swamp milkweed and a couple other pollinators in a tiny space on our downtown Newburyport property with great results. We have about 25 square feet of full sun along our driveway and we spotted three sizable monarch caterpillars! It’s amazing what you can do with a small patch of land. Come join our little team and bring more butterflies and bees to your yard this summer.

If you want to help, plant a new garden, or if you already have a pollinator garden and want to add to our efforts, contact pollinatorpowerworks@gmail.com

This column was coordinated by ACES Youth Corps member Caleb Bradshaw. To connect with us and share comments or questions, please send an email to acesnewburyport@gmail.com or directly to me at kbripper@icloud.com To learn more about ACES, visit https://www.aces-alliance.org.

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